A Winnipeg woman has been shining the light of Jesus to marginalized teens for 40 years now.
Beth Wilton, the work force founder at YFC (Youth for Christ) in Winnipeg, celebrates this life-long journey she’s been on, and she isn’t done just yet.
“I always had a passion for marginalized youth. I didn’t know a lot about YFC but I heard rumors that they had a program for “at-risk” kids, so I applied.” Wilton recalls.
Located in the heart of Winnipeg, the main location of YFC is on King Street. The “Drop-In” is aptly named, as teens from 12-18 years old can come down and enjoy activities in a positive, Christian environment with no pressure.
When Beth started, she says the beginning felt inspired. “The woman who was leaving the program told God she wanted to leave but she wouldn’t until someone came to take her place. I guess I was that person.”
She says her roles and responsibilities have changed over the years.
“When I first started, there were six of us in the office. Now there’s 30-40 people and that doesn’t include the seven satellites or camp.” Wilton shares. “When I started there were two programs and now we have ministries for skateboarding, teen moms, ball hockey, counselling, camps, and all sorts of things.”
There are over 60,000 young people in the Winnipeg area, and the YFC welcomes all. While some teens have a supportive family or circle, many don’t and creating a safe connection is the goal for the staff.
“We still believe in journeying with the kids and teens through the ups and downs of their lives. YFC’s passion for helping teens experience who Jesus is, that’s still our ultimate goal.”
YFC has expanded over the past 65 years as they continue to be a positive organization in the community.
Wilton explains that some things always stays the same, even though the times and technology has changed.
“Basic needs of kids are the same. They want to be loved, they want to be accepted, seen, heard.”
The key to her success in ministry is based in a place of rest.
“If I had to pick one thing [to be successful in ministry] it would be to be still and learn to just be with Jesus. It’s taken me years and years to learn. About 20 years ago, I started keeping the Sabbath intentionally and that has really been life-saving as well.”